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NSFW: The Original Bootylicious

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the
Black History Quiz
NSFW: The Original Bootylicious
By Jim Stroud • Issue #60 • View online
Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures.

In the early 19th century, Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman was a Black Khoikhoi woman whose body was exploited as a display to paying Europeans. She and other Black Khoikhoi women were displayed as the “Hottentot Venus,” a term that became the basis of the theory that Black women were hypersexual and had larger birth canals.
Naturalists such as Henri de Blainville and Georges Cuvier believed that Baartman’s elongated labia was scientific proof that African women had naturally wide birth canals, enabling them to give birth with ease. The theory was seized upon by white owners in the New World, who used it to justify forcing Black women to work while heavily pregnant and sending them back to work immediately after giving birth.
 Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman
Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman
Her first appearance was on stage in St James, where crowds paid two shillings a head, then a considerable sum, to see the exotic import.
‘The Hottentot Venus – just arrived…from the banks of the river Gamtoos, on the borders of Kaffraria, in the interior of South Africa, a most correct and perfect specimen of that race of people,’ ran an advertisement carried in national newspapers.
Accounts of Baartman’s first appearance on stage referred to the strings of ostrich-egg shell fragments failing to conceal completely her breasts.
Her appearance sparked something of a riot with female members of the audience jumping up to pinch and poke her. She was borrowed by scientists for experiments.
Within a few years, her plight had been seized upon by anti-slavery campaigners. But they could not prevent her from being sold in 1814 to a Frenchman. She died the following year amid rumours of alcoholism and syphilis, at the age of 25.
Although deceased, her exhibition continued. Her brain, skeleton and sexual organs remained on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Her remains weren’t repatriated and buried until 2002.
Today she is seen by many as the epitome of colonial exploitation and racism, of the ridicule and commodification of black people.
A few years ago, there were rumors that a certain celebrity was planning to write and star in a film about Baartman. However, that movie never materialized. Can you guess who the celebrity was?
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Black History Quiz Answer
Well, if you did not guess already by the title of this newsletter, the answer is… Beyonce.
For further study:
Beyonce accused of 'lacking human dignity' for portrayal of Saartjie Baartman | Daily Mail Online
After receiving world wide backlash Beyonce announces that she will NOT be playing Sara Baartman
After receiving world wide backlash Beyonce announces that she will NOT be playing Sara Baartman
The significance of Sarah Baartman - BBC News
Saartjie Sarah Baartman: 10 Astonishing Facts You Didn't Know About Her
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Jim Stroud

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays. | www.blackhistoryquiz.com

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